Munich - Both Hannover 96 and Borussia Mönchengladbach will be looking to build on solid wins in the Europa League this week as they go head-to-head at the AWD-Arena this Sunday (kick-off 17:30 CET).
"Two level sides"
The game marks the start of three matches in seven days for both sides, prompting Hannover's chairman Martin Kind to speak of a "week of truth." His Reds have been particularly strong at home in recent months, going unbeaten in their last 22 league encounters and displaying the resilience they have become famous for under coach Mirko Slomka. Gladbach, on the other hand, have enjoyed some dire results on the road, losing 4-0 to Werder Bremen and 5-0 to Borussia Dortmund already this term.
Despite Borussia's mixed start to the campaign, 96 coach Slomka believes Sunday's battle will be one between "two even sides", with Gladbach yet to live up to their potential in his view.
Borussia have suffered from the departures of key players such as Marco Reus, Roman Neustädter and Dante over the summer, causing head coach Lucien Favre to tinker with his formation on various occasions. Patrick Herrmann, a wide man by trade, played behind the main striker against Marseille, a position in which Reus excelled last season. The Swiss was impressed with the youngster's display too, saying: "He did well but he needs to carry on working hard."
De Jong out
Germany Under-21 forward Peniel Mlapa, scorer of Borussia's second on Thursday night, could make his first Bundesliga appearance for the club since joining from 1899 Hoffenheim. He may well take the place of Luuk de Jong, who picked up an injury against the French side that keeps him out for several weeks. “Peniel has done well, he works very hard and he’s improving all the time," said Favre.
He stopped short of giving the burly attacker assurances of a starting berth, though. "We’ve got other players like Mike Hanke and Igor de Camargo who can play up front. I’ll work out what’s best." Right-back Tony Jantschke is another one set to miss Sunday's fixture, whilst Finland international Alexander Ring is rated as doubtful.
For Hannover, defender Karim Haggui is expected to start after missing the Helsingborgs encounter, but injured duo Felipe and Leon Andreasen will not be available. Slomka's biggest selection issue is in attack. He must choose between Mohammed Abdellaoue, Didier Ya Konan, Artur Sobiech and Mame Diouf, all of whom have found the net recently.
Hannover 96: Zieler – Cherundolo, Eggimann, Haggu, Pander – da Silva Pinto, Stindl, Ya Konan, Huszti, – Diouf, Abdellaoue
Borussia Mönchengladbach: ter Stegen – Daems, Dominguez, Brouwers, Stranzl – Nordtveit, Marx, Arango, Xhaka, Herrmann – Mlapa